Thursday, 26 September 2013

Dungeons and Dragons

Lost in the mists of time are legends of dragon-slaying, dragon-slayers and fire-breathing creatures of magic and awe. Myths of monsters and men are deeply entwined in cultures and histories around the globe. Although we may now feel that such days are behind us, it seems that the dragons are alive and well, living in the recesses within, snouts steaming and wings outstretched ready to soar...

During this time of continued inner unrest there is an increased awareness of the ‘monsters’ within; the monster in the wardrobe lurks ominously in the corner and even though we intuitively know that fear feeds it, we still tend to do everything within our power to avoid getting too close or to face that fear head on.

As a result, by avoiding the fear and trying instead to keep on keeping on, we create a kind of mental dungeon which stops us from feeling connected and unified with the universal whole. Our vision becomes narrow and it is hard to see the wood for the trees (or the wardrobe) in terms of the bigger picture of our lives. Instead of seeing solutions and resolutions, we see challenges and mental paralysis. 

Of course, for many it is easy to cling to the sinking ship of what we know, as the familiar can somehow feel reassuring regardless of how life affirming it actually is. At the same time, when we gaze into the water below, it is understandable to have doubts as to whether or not it is safer to stay on board or to leap free into the unknown depths. 

Whilst we all know that the monster in the wardrobe is a representation of fear, and that ‘there is nothing to fear but fear itself’ (FD Roosevelt), embracing this concept in the real world can be somewhat harder to master as fear can shape and define our lives in so many ways. Fear can be powerful and it can literally suck the life force out of us if we become consumed by it, yet when we are consumed by it, taking a deep breath to become free can feel nigh-on impossible as it can feel as though there is no air. 

Combine the mental dungeon and the monsters within, and we can find ourselves trapped in a kind of spiritual paralysis where on one hand we can feel the love, interconnectivity and unity of the universe, but on the other it can be hard to take a deep breath as the fear keeps the breathing shallow and light. We want to bathe in the light of the Divine and live the best life possible, but we feel trapped in current circumstances that hold us back and prevent us from expanding into the unknown.  

Yet, why do we fear the monsters within? Are the dragons truly something to fear or slay? Perhaps the dragons of myth and legend present us with an important lesson now and with the need to make a choice: friend or foe.

Of course, we naturally fight and resist mental dungeons and spiritual paralysis, but what if these only result because of the struggle? What if it is our natural tendency to be that knight in shining armour to rescue ourselves that creates a kind of spiritual and mental agoraphobia preventing us from befriending the beast within? Is slaying the dragon the only path to healing, wholeness and inner unity? What if it is the struggle to be whole and healed that keeps us locked in a perpetual state of lack and want, feeding the fear and keeps us away from the very thing we seek: equilibrium? 

Pausing for a while to contemplate the idea of letting go of the struggle; the vibration and energy of the moment changes considerably as the fear subsides, the angst fades away and the inner dungeon becomes illuminated by the radiant beams of the sun and by the glowing heart of the dragon. It seems that it is the struggle to be Whole that is creating the incongruence; for until we accept that we are Whole then there will always be a gap between where we are and where we want to be. 

So many of us have spent so long trying to slay the dragon and trying to fix ourselves and become Whole that we have failed to notice our magnificence and Wholeness. The dragons don’t diminish us, they complete us. This is not about surrendering to ‘dark forces’ within but it is about no longer allowing fear to suck the life breath out of our lungs preventing us from living the lives that we intuitively know we were born to live. 

If we fear the monsters, the dragons and even the leviathans, we turn them into the very thing that we resist the most: doubt, pain, angst...Yet, when we befriend the forces within, we do not give up and let the pain take over, but we lose the need to fear fear as the dragon suddenly changes shape as we no longer see a shadow lurking ominously in the darkness at the back of the wardrobe, but we can marvel at the colour, splendour and magnificence at this important and integral part of our essence. 

We are now knee-deep in a time to open up the cupboard doors to let the light illuminate all of the corners, nooks and crannies within. It is important not to fight the dragon but to realise that the dragon is a part of the complete puzzle of our lives. We are the accumulation of everything we have been, everything we have done and everything we are yet to do. So, when we face the opportunity to ‘jump ship’ in order to head for a new wave of spiritual consciousness that inspires freedom within, the dragons can come along as well, for they are a part of us; always have been, always will be. 

We no longer need to see the dragons as huge anchors weighing us down in burden and fear, but to realise that our life experiences make us the unique, special and amazing souls that we are today. We are ready now to take strength from the fear and to realise that the true perfection in life comes from the imperfections (the nicks, cuts, grazes and gashes) that life has brought our way. No one is perfect, but this is what makes us magnificent! 

As we step free from the inner dungeons of restricted thoughts, diminishing beliefs and storylines that no longer serve a life affirming role, the dawn light changes as we start to feel the strength rising up from within inspiring us to soar with the dragon; to love the imperfections, flaws, contradictions, paradoxes and nuances within and to realise that it is these very things that give our lives and our paths shape, meaning and context...

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Castles in the Sand

Standing on the beach, it’s hard not to feel a deep sense of connection with the moist sand under feet and the gentle sound of the waves lapping the shore. The beach stimulates a mixture of childhood memories of building sandcastles, splashing in the shallows and exploring rock pools for signs of life. Those memories contain something special as they come from a time where the imagination made it possible to bring the castle to life; as a child, the imagination was enough to have fun with even the simplest things. A cardboard box could be a plethora of things from a camp to a shop counter, and a building in the sand could be a fortress or a fairy tale castle; an intricate and complex construction taking hours to take shape.

Of course, the thing about castles in the sand is that once they are built, the sea quickly reclaims them leaving the space where it once stood in childhood majesty and perfection a blank canvas once again. Yet, as a child, this was no deterrent, for one simply built a new castle and then another one. It seemed so much easier to live in the moment back then. 

As an adult, standing on the beach doesn’t conjure quite the same magic in quite the same way. It can be hard to become blissfully absorbed in the moment without thinking about ‘reality’: life, work, love, bills, money and life (and not necessarily in that order). Yet, when we pause for a moment, we become one with the sunlight dancing across the shimmering sea and the whoosh of the waves as they ebb and flow. In that moment, everything stands still and we can take a big, deep breath that feels life-affirming and life-enhancing. 

Nothing changes, but everything does at the same time. When we look around, we can see our footsteps etched across the sand marking the journey that brought us to this moment. When we look beneath our feet, an imprint remains. Then the tide turns and it is all washed away. Should we look back with regret that the past has been washed away or should we feel the joy that the tide and the sand have given us the gift of being completely in the present moment? 

With a blank canvas, we are presented with a choice as to where the next step goes; when we consciously connect to the present, suddenly we can find ourselves captured in a moment of magic and amazement as we expand and connect with the infinite possibilities both around us and within us.
This can feel overwhelming, and many will struggle not to be bothered about finding the path ‘back home’ as the mind kicks in, trying to over-ride the magic of the moment. Yet, when we take a deep breath we can feel ourselves expanding with the Universe as we gain an inner knowing or sense that ‘all is well’; it is as though our breaths become synchronised and unified as we dance with the sunlight on the waves and allow our consciousness to ebb and flow like the changing tides. It is only when we unify that we let go of the consistent and persistent flow of worries and angst that knock at the doors of our lives. Of course, although such moments cannot change our reality, they do at the same time because we no longer find ourselves consumed and driven by fear and the heaviness of life. 

The beach makes for a powerful analogy and there is a risk that we can become lost building castles in the sand and dancing with the waves, and yet, what is the risk here? A risk that we might become so balanced, euphoric and awake that everything changes for the better or a fear that reality will seem even harder to juggle when we return? Sometimes we have to step into the unknown in order to grow and evolve, and, somewhat ironically, we often resist doing the very things that intuitively we know we need to do, because ‘reality’ makes us act differently. Reality doesn’t make us act in any particular way, we do that ourselves.

We have a lot to learn from the liberated imagination of childhood, and it seems important now to expand into this moment in order to embrace life fully and consciously; it is time to take a big deep breath of now...